Big oil patch deal may prompt others to explore

As the price of crude plunges and companies with strong finances look to get stronger by gobbling up weaker competitors, the oil and gas industry may start to see more mergers. "There are other companies that frankly need to acknowledge before they go bankrupt that they have a solid product but not the financial strength to withstand a prolonged downturn," said Riccardo Bertocco, a partner with Bain & Company in Dallas. "Their obligation is to sell while they have something that's valuable."